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Winter 2009-2010
5
Nakole Hill Wooley
was only 18 when she joined the National
Guard. Now 27 and an Iraq War veteran, she is pursuing a
social work degree at William Woods University in hopes of
helping other soldiers and their families when she graduates
in May.
“Being able to take my experience and relate is very
important,” she said.
In preparation for her career, she is
completing a 500-hour internship at the
Ike Skelton Missouri National Guard Family
Assistance Center. Her supervisor is
Marsha Barber Thompson
, a 2007
WWU social work graduate.
Wooley is one of 30 veterans currently
enrolled at WWU. Most are in the
Graduate & Adult Studies program, but
two take classes on the Fulton campus.
Wil Lawrence
of New Bloomfeld, Mo.,
has been to 24 countries during fve years
as a Marine and a member of the Missouri
National Guard. He is studying psychology.
Robert Weaver
of Davidsville, Pa., has
been a fight medical tech in the U.S. Air
Force Reserves since 2006. He is
freshman equestrian science major.
Wooley grew up in Bevier, Mo., near
Macon, and graduated from high school
in 2000. She left for basic training that
August. In high school, she had shadowed the National Guard
and decided then that she wanted to
be one of them.
“They were the ones doing something—building, creating,
moving dirt. I wanted to do something I would never do in the
civilian world.”
She was the only female in a platoon of 50 men, which she
says was “very interesting.”
As a civilian she worked in a nursing home as a CNA
(certifed nurse assistant). In the National Guard, she was
a heavy equipment operator, training one weekend a month
and two weeks a year. She enjoyed it so much, she recruited
her mother, who now serves full time in the National Guard.
In 2001, Wooley was sent to Germany for three weeks to build
training sites and roads for soldiers to travel on.
When a plane few into the Twin Towers on 9/11, everything
changed. She said the National Guard was mobilizing soldiers
to fll need and demand. She changed job skills and became a
bridge crew member.
“We got mobilized to deploy to Iraq, but then we were sent
home and later reactivated.”
In 2002, she went to Utah to provide
security during the
Olympics, which she called “a
great mission.”
Three years later, she was sent to
Kuwait and, after waiting a month for
their equipment, they convoyed to
southern Iraq, driving trucks she
described as bigger than semis.
“It’s not like America,” she said.
“The terrain, the smell, everything is
different; from Bagdad south,
everything is dead. All along the MSR
(military supply route), kids were
running out into the street,
wanting things.”
She said she had some stuffed
animals, gifts from the states, which
she gave the children.
“Also, the Iraqi women wanted to touch our hair, and they didn’t
understand lip gloss, which we wore because of the dry air.”
She said the soldiers had to be careful “because you don’t
know who’s good and who’s bad.”
They had to be particularly careful of IEDs (improvised ex-
plosive devices), homemade bombs used in unconventional
warfare.
Wooley said the irony of her situation did not escape her.
“I had worked in a nursing home helping people, but then I
found myself in Iraq, carrying a weapon, an M16, ready to
fre at people.”
Wooley’s job was to build bridges to replace
those that were blown up.
Wooley and other soldiers work to remove a panel
bridge spanning a canal on a major alternate supply
route in southern Iraq.